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Full text of "The Gay Genius"

Chapter Thirteen
THE YELLOW TOWER

EVEN for a genius like Su Tungpo, life began at forty. Su was1
now to enter his Suchow period, the period of the "Yellow Tower".
Suddenly Su Tungpo found himself. For the first time in his life,
he is revealed as a man of action, doing things and building things
and occupied in the public activities which characterised his life from
aow on. So far, as an assistant magistrate at Hangchow, he had not
been able to do anything constructive and important, and although
he was given a full magistracy at Michow, it was a poor, remote dis-
trict, giving no opportunity for the full expression of his administra-
tive talent. He was later to be forced into a period of temporary retire-
ment and political eclipse, after which emerged the full, round, mature,
active, patriotic Su Tungpo that we know and people in China love,
the Su Tungpo with a mellow humour, a friend and champion of the
people and a great human spirit. But before his arrest and banishment,
the magistracy at Suchow already gave proof of what Su Tungpo, the
man of action, could do as an able administrator.

At the end of 1076 Tungpo was recalled from Michow, with an
appointment to office at Hochungfu, at the south-western tip of Shansi
province; and in January of the following year he set out for the capital
by way of Tsinan, where his brother's family lived. Tseyu was nog
there, for great political changes were in the air. By now Wang
Anshih, Huiching, Tseng Pu, Dunquan, and again Wang, had all
fallen, one after the other, and nobody knew what was going to happen
next.

Tseyu was a quiet but determined man. Su Tungpo had kept on
sending memorandums on tax and draft reforms and had advised the
Emperor against the income tax; but Tseyu, silent before, thought per-
haps the time had come to strike hard for a complete change of govern-
ment policy. Wang Anshih had been on Kis final way out in October,
and Tseyu, without waiting for his brother, had gone right ahead
to the capital with an important memorandum for complete reforms,
His family had remained at Tsinan, and there Su Tungpo was greeted
by his three nephews standing in the snow outside the gate. That
night they had a great feast and the two brothers' families were happily
reunited. Tsinan, a large city, provided a great change from Michow,
and Su Tungpo remained there for about a month. It was not? till
about the tenth of February, 1077, that the two brothers' families
reached the bank of the Yellow River near the capital. Tseyu had come

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